September 18, 2020

Virginia Hunters For the Hungry Bill Dead For Now

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A bill that would make it mandatory for hunters who buy a license to give $1.00 that would go toward the Hunters for the Hungry program – $2.00 for non-resident licenses, has been seriously crippled. It appeared the bill would sail through both Houses but came up against some serious problems when it got to the House.

At issue is state law and federal law. Within the state laws, it says that all money collected from the sale of hunting licenses must go into the Game Protection Fund for wildlife management. The other side is how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would view the collected monies when considering matching federal dollars.

Other states, such as Maryland, have similar laws but the wording is different. This bill in the Virginia House will be ignored for now and die a peaceful death when the Assembly retires soon. Efforts are underway now to rewrite the bill so the wording will work.

The Hunters for the Hungry Program is an effort to feed the hungry and needy. Hunters donate their game to feed the hungry. At issue is the cost of processing the meat so it can then be distributed. Last season, over 350,000 pounds of meat was distributed and that processing costs money. It is too much to ask the meat processors to bear the expense.
Initially, a voluntary system was set up where hunters could make a donation to the program. This began in 2003. Last year, this program brought in just over $12,000 dollars that requires a half a million dollars to run. Adding a mandatory fee to the license was hoped to generate at least half of that half million dollars.

Some within the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, as well as lawmakers, have said that noone seems opposed to the mandatory fee and they have never heard anyone say anything bad about the program. My question is this. If so many are for the program and they’re not opposed to having to add a dollar or two to their license fee, then why doesn’t the voluntary donation program work?

Most charity programs are just that, charity programs, not forced upon the backs of individuals like hunters. Don’t get me wrong, I think the program is a good one and I take my hat off to the many hunters willing to take the time and incur the expense of bagging a deer and giving it to Hunters for the Hungry. Is taxing them another dollar the right way to do this? Perhaps a different program of education and promotion to bring in others who are willing to give voluntarily a buck or two to the program would work better.

Just a few thoughts of my own here. I just have issues with forcing people to donate to charitable causes. This really amounts to nothing more than a tax but if the Virginia hunters are not objectionable to this, then more power to them. Keep up the good work.

Tom Remington

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